Fear can be the ultimate motivator. People in a plane that is rapidly plummeting to the ground are suddenly motivated to clasp their hands together and hastily scream a prayer that they haven’t felt compelled to whisper since elementary school. Some live by the philosophy that without fear there would never be an opportunity to exhibit great courage. I disagree that fear should be anyone’s ultimate motivator, and I believe fear-fueled prepping is dangerous and foolish. Prepping because you have given fear a name such as an F5 tornado, a great flood, civil war, an EMP, a worldwide pandemic, etc. could prove deadly for you and your loved ones. Don’t stock up on food and supplies out of fear, instead be confident in your abilities, gather what you can for any given situation and make it part of who you are, how you think, and how you react.
Fear and prepping don’t mix because the act of preparing for anything requires focus and strategy. Fear is paralyzing and can cause a person to push aside a sound judgment. It speaks to the rational mind and causes panic which then turns people into illogical, wide-eyed animals. If you are trying to convince a spouse to get on board with your preparedness mindset, the worst thing you can do is to try to motivate them with fear. First of all, it can backfire and fear can cause some people to not even want to get out of bed in the morning. If you start preaching to them about the pandemic that is all but at their doorstep, they might conclude that the end is near and there is no point in going to the grocery store or taking the dog for a walk. Even if you are able to convince them to join your small elite army, they very well could turn into a crazed trigger-happy liability.
Medically and psychologically, fear can wreak havoc on your system. It can affect the immune system, cause cardiovascular damage, and gastrointestinal problems. The body suffers from fear, but the mind is where it really causes problems. Your long-term memories are affected as well as the ability to read non-verbal cues. Decision making is impaired in negative ways and a person is apt to fall prey to the impulsivity of actions. In simpler terms, a person could forget where they buried all their caches, fly into an irrational rage, shoot a hole in a water barrel because they mistook it for a zombie, and then drop dead from a heart attack. All this could be avoided had they not been operating out of an unyielding, dark, and portentous emotion.
You should be prepared for whatever may come your way, and you should also have some survival skills under your belt for good measure. Most of all, check fear at the door and develop strategies that ensure a cool head and the ability to maintain a panic-free demeanor at all times.
A tale of two Preppers
Imagine the scenario where PREPPER A has worked themselves into a lather over their fear of Ebola. They have feverishly prepared themselves for a worldwide pandemic. They research the topic endlessly, buy every medical book on Amazon, take some First Aid classes, stock up on medical supplies, buy Hazmat suits, etc. They have sacrificed sleep, quality time with loved ones, and freaked out members of their family only to drive home one day and find that their house and all their preps have burned to the ground. The next day the world is thrown into chaos because of financial collapse and they have nothing they relied on except the knowledge in their head. If there is nothing in their head except ideas of how to deal with a pandemic and the ability to use specific supplies then they are in deep trouble. Now let’s take PREPPER B. This person has stored up general preps such as food, medical supplies, and precious metals. They have invested time in learning the survival skills that will keep them alive in any climate and any chaotic situation. Not only is PREPPER B better than A in many ways, they also have one more huge advantage. They possess the ability to keep their emotions in check and maintain a level head even when circumstances seem at their worst. They will be an asset to their family and community.
Here four things that can assuage the fearful mind:
- Identify: Identify what you are fearful of and what about it causes you the most dread. Now recognize that you have the ability to conquer your fear and that what tortures you most is the unknown. Realize you cannot determine the future and it is impossible to prepare for EVERY scenario.
- Skills: Work on learning skills that will test your grit. Imagine scenarios where you don’t have anything to fall back on. Determine the skill set needed for these situations and practice them until you are confident in your abilities.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff: Make a list of things that you want to accomplish, but don’t assign a timeline. Be diligent, but not OCD.
- Remember: Use scripture or a phrase that keeps your emotions in check. Choose something calming that succinctly defines what your state of mind should be in when you are overcome with the wrong emotions. I, personally, find Psalm 23:4 soothing and comforting. This verse gives me confidence and stabilizes my mind.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Remember, if you have worked hard to fill your pantry, stored up emergency items, and have researched everything you need to know to survive you can still be gripped with anxiety which stems from fear. Understanding that you are where you are and that when you go to bed at night you will be satisfied with what you have and make do if the need arises is key to your stability.
Here is a short list of skills that should be firmly planted in your head as well as your loved ones. And I highly recommend taking the time to teach your children survival skills. Ages will vary, but don’t underestimate the usefulness of our youth. Kids are capable to do much more than most people give them credit for.
- Build a fire, especially in the event you don’t have matches and newspaper.
- Forage for food that isn’t going to kill you.
- Build a shelter.
- Run 4 miles without dying. If you have health problems that keep you from running, then at least be able to walk 3 miles.
- Find drinking water and know how to produce clean, drinkable water without a manufactured filter.
- Plant a seed and grow food. Even if it’s spinach. Then learn how to save the seed from what you produce.
- Treat a wound and be able to clean it properly to keep infection at bay.
- Fire a weapon with a moderate level of proficiency and clean the weapon afterwards. (If you are working with a minor, then most importantly, if they have never shot a firearm then take them somewhere so they can shoot at a target and see that real guns put real big holes in people and things. Guns aren’t toys and I believe if more people taught their kids about weapons, there would be fewer accidental shootings).
- Know how to dress for the weather and use layers properly. Dying from overexposure is a bad way to go and can be avoided with proper layers.
- Learn how to read the sky for direction and weather. This skill has been overlooked with the introduction of the GPS.
I will end with this quote because I love it. It sums up the experience and disdain I have for fear. There is no one alive that has never been afraid; what sets us apart and makes us strong and more capable of survival is the ability to conquer it.
“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”- Thomas Paine